The cheekbone area is one of the most prominent parts of the face. When you see someone, you immediately see their cheekbones, especially if they are smiling. Thus, the balance of your cheekbones is essential in facial attractiveness.
You can tell if you have high or low cheekbones by first identifying the location of the highest point in your cheekbone area. You have high cheekbones when this point is in line with your nose’s upper area or close to your eye. You can also compare the length of your ogee curve to the midface.
Though we refer to high cheekbones casually, it isn’t easy to see if someone has high cheekbones or not if you don’t look closely. Plus, make-up prevents the viewer from seeing exactly how high up a person’s cheekbones are. However, doing it yourself is quite easy, though you might have trouble with it if plenty of fat covers your face, inhibiting you from fully seeing where your cheekbones are.
For a great primer on cheekbones, check out this Looks Theory episode:
What Factors Play a Role in Cheekbone Appearance?
Your cheekbone appearance is highly dependent on your bone structure. Your zygomatic or malar bone is what determines how high up your cheekbones are.
Despite that, your facial bone structure is not the only determinant of how your cheekbones look. The soft tissue around it could also contribute to how high or low your cheekbones appear to be. Note that the soft tissue does not change where your cheekbones are situated, but it does alter the external perception.
For example, a woman with high cheekbones but has chubby cheeks may look like she has low cheekbones even when she doesn’t. It’s all about how the components of your face, bone, muscle, and fat included, work together to create your facial appearance.
Additionally, your race also plays a major role in how your cheekbones will look. Asians are more likely to have bone structures that are wider and have cheeks that protrude horizontally. However, that’s not true across all Asians as the continent has a wide variety of ethnicities. On the other hand, Caucasians are more likely to have cheekbones that push more upward, not outward. This disparity creates a lot of differences between what your cheekbones look like depending on your race. These are only rough generalizations, and the large biological variety in Asians or Caucasians still causes a disparity in cheekbone appearance. By no means does this mean that all Asians or Caucasians, regardless of locality, share the same characteristic.
Plus, there’s the fact that male and female cheekbones are different. Men are more likely to have wider cheekbones and a higher FWHR than women. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to have lower zygomatic bones and rounder cheekbones. You can observe in pop culture that we like to say that someone has high cheekbones when really, what they have are prominent cheeks and not actual high cheekbones. You’ll notice that when people talk about high cheekbones, they’re often talking about the cheeks, not the cheekbones.
How to Determine if You Have High or Low Cheekbones
To determine if you have high or low cheekbones, you have to look at your face without any make-up, and you should be under natural lighting. Harsh lighting, such as fluorescent lights, can drastically change your appearance, and the shadows on your face will make it difficult to tell.
- Start by looking at yourself in the mirror in a frontal view.
- Place your thumb on your tragus (the little nub near your ear canal) and your index finger on your nostril.
- Slowly dragging your index finger and thumb together will allow you to identify the highest point in your cheekbones. Make sure to exert some pressure, so you know which part is the highest. It might take a few tries to gauge exactly where the highest point is, so looking at the mirror while you’re doing so is important.
- Next, assess where the location of the highest point is. If it’s in line with your nose bridge or even the middle of your nose, then you have high cheekbones. If your cheekbones sit in line with your nostrils or the lower portion of your nose, then you have low cheekbones.
Another way to assess your cheekbones is to look at your reflection from a three-quarters angle. Take a look at the curve of your face, and you’ll notice a bump after the dip in your eye area. The closer that area is to your eyes, the higher your cheekbones are.
An additional consideration is that we base this measurement on the nose and eye areas, which can be subjective. Some people have noses that are too long for their face, which will distort the results. Some people could have a long midface, making it difficult to identify if low is low.
So, remember that this is just a crude measurement, but it’s as close as you can get. Simply looking at your face is not completely telling, as your malar region (cheekbone area) may have extra fat surrounding it, preventing you from fully seeing how high up your cheekbones are.
Another method is for looking at the length of the ogee curve. The ogee curve is the curve created by your cheekbones on your face. The downside of this method is it’s not good at distinguishing prominence vs. height. Simply compare the length of the curve to the midface length. If you have high cheekbones, the ogee curve will take up more than half of the midface, like so:
Low cheekbones will have the ogee curve take up a small portion of the midface length.
Difficulty Locating Cheekbones
Understandably, some people struggle with locating their cheekbones. This issue is because figuring out how high and low your cheekbones are, involves several things that go beyond just what your cheekbones appear to be. Buccal fat is a common culprit for this difficulty. The buccal fat pad is a pocket of fat that’s between your cheek muscles. You’ll find this in the hollows of your cheek. People with large buccal fat pads tend to look like they have lower cheekbones as the buccal pad distracts the viewer from their cheekbones’ prominence. If you locate your cheekbones simply by looking at yourself in the mirror (even in natural lighting), you won’t be getting the most accurate results.
The best way to determine where your cheekbones are is to get in there and feel where it’s most prominent.
Which Is Better: High or Low Cheekbones?
There is no correct answer to this question. Both high cheekbones and low cheekbones can look attractive. That said, we do have a general affinity for high cheekbones. This preference could be due to the proliferation of attractive faces on media that have high cheekbones. It could be due to how we’ve internalized that high cheekbones are attractive (and they are), but that’s not all there is to attractiveness. There are many conventionally attractive people with low cheekbones.
If, after the test above, you find that you have low cheekbones, don’t worry too much about it. Even though we have preconceived perceptions about what type of cheekbones are more attractive, it’s not the end-all of your facial appearance. Remember that your cheekbones are just a single aspect of your face. Facial harmony or how your features work together is a better indication of attractiveness.
As previously mentioned, your race is also a factor that determines how your cheekbones look. Because of that, there are varying standards in how we perceive cheekbones worldwide, and beauty can be an ethnic concern. If you live in an Asian country, you will be under their beauty standards. The cheekbones that look the most attractive in an Asian environment might not be the best if you put yourself in a western setting, for example.
A lot of the conversation surrounding cheekbones tends to stay within the high or low narrative. But an arguably more important (or equally important) aspect of cheekbone appearance is how prominent they are. Low cheekbones and high cheekbones both have the potential to look very attractive if they’re prominent. Looking at someone with low cheekbones, you are more likely to think that they’re attractive if their cheekbones jut out and give further dimension to their face. This argument also stands true for situations where someone has high cheekbones, but it won’t show up due to excess facial fat.
Take a look at this photo as an example:
You’ll notice that she has low cheekbones, even from the make-up free photo. After putting on some contour, her cheekbones are now much more prominent but still low. However, she looks much better, and her cheekbones have improved. It looks more sculpted now, and her face has plenty of definition.
Why Do We Perceive High Cheekbones as More Attractive?
There’s no denying that society, in general, has an appreciation for high cheekbones. Though it seems like that’s just at face value, there’s also some science behind it. In one study, 20,000 people answered a survey about a pool of women’s images (Draelos, 2007). The photos were of various ethnicities and ages to broaden the study’s scope as much as possible. As expected, the consensus was that women with high cheekbones are more attractive across various ethnicities and ages. But the question is, why?
According to Draelos, high cheekbones are an indicator of a female’s estrogen levels. This result could be part of the reason why females with high cheekbones are attractive. However, the evidence for that statement seems pretty lacking. Men with high cheekbones are attractive, so it can’t be the only reason, and we know testosterone makes cheekbones more prominent.
Of course, there’s the fact that high cheekbones have been attractive over all forms of media for decades! Even in the 20th century, people with high cheekbones look attractive. There’s just a seemingly timeless beauty to high cheekbones that you can’t replicate with low cheekbones.
Our theory is that high cheekbones create more room for hollow cheeks. So it’s not the high cheekbones themselves we find attractive, but the space that they create. But the same effect can be achieved with low cheekbones as well.
Are High Cheekbones Ever Unattractive?
Definitely, without a doubt, yes! High cheekbones can make a face unattractive just as much as any other feature if it does not match the person’s facial appearance. Take, for example, a person who has stretched out skin and is quite skinny. Can you ever imagine high cheekbones looking good on them? The answer is probably…no.
High cheekbones make a face attractive IF they enhance what’s already on that person’s face. Otherwise, high cheekbones will make the matter worse and make them look even more tired and worn out! The key to thinking about what cheekbones suit you best is how certain cheekbones will improve your facial appearance. Try as much as possible to look at the bigger picture and not just one facet of your appearance.
Examples of Attractive People With Low Cheekbones
Remember, there’s hope for you yet. Take a look at these attractive people with low cheekbones:
Remember, these are people who only look like they have low cheekbones. In reality, it’s much more complex than that. Their make-up and the lighting both contribute to how their cheekbones will look in photos. While this makes it difficult for us to determine their cheekbones’ true state, it also indicates how easy it is to manipulate your cheekbone appearance with the right lighting and make-up.
How to Get Better Cheekbones
Getting “better” cheekbones is a very subjective goal. The cheekbones that fit your facial features the best may not necessarily be higher or lower. Just like with every other facial feature, you need to consider the overall balance of your face. There’s no standard solution to getting better cheekbones. Given that, many people would prefer higher cheekbones as opposed to lower ones. However, people who look gaunt due to their high cheekbones could want cheekbones that are more full and even appear “lower.” Both types are just as valid as the other. That said, the following procedures will help you regardless of the effect that you want to achieve.
Make-up is an excellent tool. If you’re a guy, you may feel a bit iffy about using make-up on your face, but generally, women can experiment as much as they’d like with make-up. With the right base and contour shades, you can get the perfect cheekbones for your face. It’s going to take a bit of time and practice to get it right, but using make-up to improve your cheekbones is amazingly easy and will change your appearance drastically. Add a bit of highlight on the area that you want to shine, and you are good to go.
If you don’t want to commit to a particular look yet or want to experiment first, make-up can be a great way to determine what type of cheekbones look great on you and which don’t. The downside of using make-up is that it takes time to put on every day (and sometimes you just can’t be bothered). So if you are looking for a more permanent or relatively permanent solution, the following suggestions may help you more.
2. Dermal Fillers
Dermal fillers are a great option if you’re looking for something temporary. These fillers are usually made up of substances already present in the body, such as Hyaluronic Acid (HA), the most popular kind of dermal filler available. Another common one is calcium hydroxyapatite (CaHa), a biocompatible material with plenty of research in the past years. It also has an excellent safety profile and has potential long-lasting effects for the skin’s collagen that goes beyond the filler’s life (Loghem, 2015).
However, dermal fillers tend to migrate to other areas of the face, which is an additional risk you will have to consider. The body will gradually absorb the product within a couple of months, but small parts can still linger for years.
3. Cheek Implants
Implants are another method to improve your cheekbone appearance. A cheek implant is a surgical procedure where the surgeon places a biocompatible, solid substance in the problem area. These implants are usually silicone or a similar substance, and they should fit the patient’s cheeks and augment their cheeks as best as possible. Sometimes, cheek implants come in the form of fat transfer from another part of your body.
Solid cheek implants are essentially permanent, while fat implants last a couple of years. Cheek implants can also be taken out later, but it’s best to get it right the first time, as doing so will stretch your skin and soft tissues.
4. Losing Weight
Losing weight through diet and exercise is an excellent way to make your cheekbones more prominent. Plus, proper diet and exercise will not only improve your cheekbones and face but the rest of your body as well. However, losing weight does not apply to all scenarios. It is a good choice for when you feel like you could use less fat on your cheeks, and in doing so, make your cheekbones more prominent. However, it’s not the best choice if you already have a slim face as it will make you look older and more tired.
Check out our guide for the best strategies to lost weight.
Mewing is another way that you can improve your cheekbones. Mewing is a process that still needs more research as to how it affects the cheeks in particular, but there have been many people who vouch for it. The idea behind it is that you have to practice proper oral posture to push your upper jaw (maxilla forward). As the cheekbones are both parts of the zygomatic bone and the maxilla, this will also help push your cheekbones forward and make them more prominent. A major downside to mewing is that it does take some time and works best on younger subjects. It still works on adults but is not nearly as effective as in younger people.
Click here to visit our ultimate mewing guide.